Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Lasagna Virgin

I suppose the title says it all -- until last month I had never cooked my own lasagna from scratch. Yes, I love cooking, and I love Italian food, but lasagna was always just off my radar screen.

See, I've had a number of mediocre to bad lasagne in my life. Chalky, bland, mushy... there are so many ways a lasagna can be done poorly, and I suspect I've tried all of them. When it came time to cook something for myself, lasagna simply never registered as an option.

In recent years, however, I've had a number of lasagne that have brought the dish back into my good graces. My mom discovered an excellent lasagna recipe at some point during my college years, and has been making it every now and then for the past decade. More recently, Liz started making the Barefoot Contessa's recipe with incredible results. So, I decided to give it a shot.

I used the same recipe with a few modifications. Most significantly, I used spicy Italian pork sausage instead of sweet Italian turkey sausage. In any case, here's how it all came together.

Onions and garlic ready to be sauteed.

Sausage -- casings removed -- into the pan.

Brown the sausage, add pureed tomatoes and seasonings, including fresh parsley.

In this recipe, we used regular lasagna noodles (not "no-cook" noodles) but we didn't exactly cook them. Ina Garten has you place them in a bowl of hot tap water for 20 minutes instead. I'm guessing this technique helps the noodles retain an al dente texture after all that time in the oven.

Prepping the cheeses.

Finally, we build the lasagna.

Ran out of sauce at the end... I could have done a better job estimating how much needed to go in each layer, but ultimately I don't think it mattered much.

Straight out of the oven:

And onto the plate, served with roasted asparagus.

I impressed myself... this lasagna was terrific. I like the creaminess and rich flavor that the goat cheese adds.

What else have we been cooking? Without getting into as much detail as the lasagna, here are a few pictures.

Tagliarelle with truffle butter (I couldn't find truffle butter in any brick and mortar store -- even . Apparently we need to order it online. So I substituted regular butter and a bit of truffle oil).

Wish I could take credit for this. Chili Egg Puff with potatoes sauteed in duck fat at Crippen Creek. There are no words.

A better look at those potatoes getting nice and crusty in that wonderful duck fat.

Our friend Austin, who is from Oregon but lives in Thailand, has given us a good technique for making Thai curries. Pictured: Masaman curry.

Meatballs for . A little different than the meatballs we use for Sunday Gravy, but pretty good in their own right.

I can't stop making this bread. What can I say?

Finally, here's what we had last night. From the latest issue of Saveur, pan-seared flatiron steak with herb butter.

The mashed potatoes don't look as appetizing as they might have, because I poured some of the pan juice on top of them. However, I can assure you that they were delicious.

What's next on the agenda? I vow to attempt a cassoulet before the end of the year. I am tinkering with and perfecting my pizza recipe. And some friends of ours are raising rabbits for meat, and they have invited us to share and photograph a special meal they will prepare after the slaughter. Until then!

1 comment:

The Inn at Crippen Creek Farm said...

A tip of the toque to you. Great job!